aMBUSH GALLERY AND CENTRAL PARK PRESENTS:
Exhibition Opening: Thurs 16 Jul, 6 – 9pm
Exhibition Continues: Fri 17 Jul – Sun 23 Aug, 12 – 8pm
Post-Graffiti Pacific is not just another graffiti exhibition. It’s a statement and a definition – a bold assertion of language, history, culture, expression and the significance of place in art making. Curator Olivia Laita and her line-up of seven leading Post-Graffiti Pacific artists are proposing, with conviction, the dawn of a new movement in art.
Post-Graffiti Pacific, which launches at aMBUSH Gallery, Central Park, Chippendale on Thursday 16 July from 6-9pm, seeks, in part, to organise the way we talk about urban contemporary art. As urban contemporary artists have evolved to straddle the divide between public and studio practice, terms like ‘graffiti’ and ‘street art’ have become insufficient to describe the activities and motivations of today’s urban artists. ‘Post-Graffiti’ is now a recognised term, used to describe the work of artists whose backgrounds in graffiti inform their professional artistic practice.
aMBUSH Gallery’s director Bill Dimas says, “The way the flourishing urban contemporary art movement permeates geographical borders in order to both unify and distinguish cultures and modes of expression has been one of aMBUSH’s driving motivators since the day we launched. It is exciting to be working with Olivia and the Post-Graffiti Pacific artists in bringing their perspectives and skills before a Sydney audience so we can continue to explore the potential of urban contemporary art and its future as a movement.”
In embracing the concept of Post-Graffiti, and to further crystalise their roles in and relationships to the new urban contemporary art movement, the seven Post-Graffiti Pacific artists also use their work to emphasise their cultural backgrounds as New Zealanders. Through Post-Graffiti Pacific, they intend to platform themselves as representatives of Post-Graffiti artists who hail from the greater Pacific region.
Curator Olivia Laita says, “Post-Graffiti Pacific is the vehicle for [the artists] to explore the complexity of issues relating to a region that accounts for around a third of the planet and 40% of global trade. Human migration in both the ancient and modern and the pre and post-colonial context provides the basis for the artists to cover a multitude of subjects that encompass everything from ancient exploration, mythology, identity, economics and environmental issues.”
The Post-Graffiti Pacific movement is being pioneered by Auckland-based artists Askew One, Benjamin Work, Berst, Elliot Francis Stewart, Gary Silipa, Misery and Route52, with Laita at the helm. The multidisciplinary exhibition will feature paintings, drawings, photography and sculpture, and New Zealand digital composer Max Wehi will be performing his musical interpretation of the works on the opening night.
Post-Graffiti Pacific launches at aMBUSH Gallery, Central Park, Chippendale on Thursday 16 July from 6-9pm, and continues until Sunday 23 August from 12-8pm. Visit www.ambushgallery.com or search aMBUSH Gallery on Facebook for more information and event updates.
About Post-Graffiti Pacific
Olivia Laita, Exhibition Curator
Post-Graffiti Pacific, a movement that was born out of Auckland’s ‘Studio 40’ in 2014, after witnessing a discussion between Urban Contemporary artists Askew One and Benjamin Work. They wanted a term that better represented and acknowledged their teenage beginnings in traditional graffiti writing. Frustrated with being referred to as ‘Street Artists’ by the general public they sought a term that describes their experience more aptly. Tagging, bombing, piecing – the key elements of graffiti writing – this was their foundation that had shaped them into the contemporary artists that they are today.
Later that year in an almost parallel synchronicity, The Urban Contemporary Art Guide 2014 from Paris was released, with a definition for a recognized term unknown to them, ‘Post-Graffiti’ – an urban contemporary artist who has come up through the ranks of graffiti and pays homage to the culture. Immediately, an affinity to Post-Graffiti was established and claimed. Quickly, their train of thought saw an association between their identity as a Post-Graffiti artist AND even more specifically, their identity as a Pacific-based artist, with influences stemming from this incredibly dynamic region.
Post-Graffiti Pacific is a marriage between two concepts that are relevant to these artists and their works and is also the vehicle for them to explore the complexity of issues relating to a region that accounts for around a third of the planet and 40% of global trade. Human migration in both the ancient and modern and the pre and post-colonial context provides the basis for the artists to cover a multitude of subjects that encompass everything from ancient exploration, mythology, identity, economics and environmental issues. PGP has now become a movement led by 7 Auckland-based artists, Askew One, Benjamin Work, Berst, Elliot Francis Stewart, Gary Silipa, Misery, Route52 and myself as a curator. Post-Graffiti Pacific at aMBUSH Gallery is the first official exhibition showcasing these artists under the titled movement.
PGP is not specific to any one region of the Pacific, the artists view the greater geography as a giant ‘Water Continent’, fluid and ever-changing. The intent is for the movement to grow and include more artists who can offer a broader perspective through their own history and experiences.
About the Curator
Olivia Laita, PhD
Based in Auckland, New Zealand, the Polynesian capital of the world, Olivia Laita curates the Urban Contemporary art works of a selected number of important Post-Graffiti Pacific artists. With influences stemming from their geographical environment, the works of these artists reflect the nature of Diaspora and what it is to be a generational product of ancestral migration, or a current day immigrant, to the Pacific region. Olivia’s long-term goal is to expand her curation to other important Post-Graffiti Pacific artists within both the North and South Pacific regions.
About the Artists
With a strong self-taught background in graffiti, graphic design and video-making, Askew One’s geographical isolation being based out of Auckland, New Zealand, hasn’t held him back from showcasing his work to the world. His consistency with his inter- net web presence over the last 12 years has made him world-renowned and he is now considered to be one of the leading figures of graffiti and urban contemporary art from the Pacific region. The end result of his urban contemporary works is the product of his innovative process, which uses his skills in photography, graphic design, graffiti and traditional painting. By capturing his audience with visually complex and pleasing paintings, he is able to bring a greater story to the viewers’ attention. The importance of bringing to the forefront, the economic and environmental issues that are currently in place amongst the smaller Pacific nations of Oceania.
As a person of mixed Scottish and Tongan ancestry, Benjamin struggled to find a sense of belonging and gravitated towards the pop-cultural influences emanating from Los Angeles in the 1990s, such as skate, fashion, gang and graffiti culture. Today, Benja- min’s journey to learn more about his Tongan ancestry, has led him to discover images of antique Tongan weapons, finely carved with often overlooked symbols of warriors and royalty. These key figures in motion, form the majority of Benjamin’s works with strength and power and occasionally, the Lupe, a pacific bird of peace, features in his works. He continues to explore the power of kula (red) and uli (black) and their connections to titles, Christian beliefs and youth gangs in Tongan thinking and practice.
Instilled with the working-class ethics of his Chinese family, Berst has applied his full energy and dedication into his passions, education and the evolution of graffiti letter styles. After completing his Masters Degree in Education in 2014, his attention to his students and himself as an Urban Contemporary artist have organically become his new lease on life. Incorporating both his worlds into his innovative and current teaching programs for tertiary institution Unitec, his outreach amongst students and youth have made him highly popular. Having immigrated to New Zealand as a child, Berst’s current post-graffiti works explore the commonalities of Chinese and Maori mythologies using bold and intense illustrations and symbolisms.
Elliot Francis Stewart
Initially garnering a reputation as one of the best graffiti character writers in the world, Elliots’ transition into comic-style cartoons and elaborate illustrations came naturally and with ease. His ability to interpret any concept put in front of him with his signature style has quickly made him one of the most in-demand local post-graffiti artists in New Zealand. This analogue guy living in a digital world has yet to share his rare talent consistently with the world but in 2015, equipped with a brand new passport, this is set to change.
With a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Computer Science and Information Systems and a promising career in Information Technology, one would think Gary Silipa would settle. However, this initial career choice was stemmed from a greater train of thought from when he was a child, the thought of knowing that ‘We’ as humans on earth, ‘Are Not Alone’. Gary started his post-graffiti career with striking and minimalistic symbolism and graphs, portraying the common struggles between ‘The Good’ and ‘The Bad’ parts of life, igniting individual self-assessment. This grew to more story-telling, colorful and conceptual works and installations, referencing his strong beliefs of life from The Bible. His visual style of painting reflects and pays tribute to his initial childhood point of view and the painting immediacy and aesthetic elements of graffiti.
Based in Auckland, New Zealand, Misery’s natural flare for art runs four generations deep. Known more for her character based works that are fun and magical but sprinkled with a touch of dark humor, her first outdoor works were graffiti-based, and her name Misery was gifted to her by Askew One in 1997. Misery’s growth of her characters and worlds, which all live in ‘Miseryland’, strongly influenced by both her personal Asian and Pacific art experiences, has made her an individual strong-hold amongst her loyal and forever growing followers. Both known locally and internationally, she is one of the Pacific region’s most well known female urban contemporary artists to date.
In the mid-1990’s as a teenager, Brendan Kitto aka Route52 expanded from the activities of skating and graffiti to also documenting what he perceived as important youth culture. With age, this concept was further refined. His need to document process and happenings, capturing a time and place, became his point of difference in graffiti documentation, since most people at the time would only photograph the final result. This patience to capture THE shot in urban popular culture and fashion, has enabled him to exhibit his photos in both group and solo shows. With respect to the past and moving forward with the future, Route52 embraces medium format, 35mm and digital photography, with his own in-house black and white development dark room.
Raised in Auckland, self-proclaimed ‘urban Maori’ Max Wehi is a digital composer, who draws on his background as a B-Boy and his tertiary education in Performing Arts to produce emotive, spiritual music as a means of interpreting life and, more specifically, visual arts. Wehi pays homage to his cultural background and its relationship to modernity by blending Maori and Pacific musical motifs with contemporary New Zealand influences as he creates ambient performance-based music using MPC and electronic drum pads. As a testament to Wehi’s commitment to studying the spiritual relevance of music to culture and custom, he spent some time living and working in India, examining the relationship Indian music has to social settings and practices of worship.
About aMBUSH Gallery
aMBUSH Gallery is much more than a physical exhibition space. It’s an innovative program of site-specific, project-based art activations stemming from a unique fusion of philanthropic and commercial impulses.
This multi-award winning gallery has a demonstrated history of staging highly successful activations, which not only engage and entertain audiences, but also provides sustainable futures for emerging and established artists.
aMBUSH Gallery, which is an is an initiative of Wiltshire & Dimas Management, has made a significant contribution to the social and cultural development of metropolitan and regional Australia. Major projects have included the groundbreaking Outpost Project at Cockatoo Island, which was the biggest street art festival in the world and the first such event to be held in Australia, and Project Five, an initiative which provides opportunities for artistic youth in Western Sydney.
In March 2015, aMBUSH Gallery opened its new exhibition space on Level 3 of Central Park, Sydney, in Chippendale. Since taking up residence in their new 2000 sqm home, aMBUSH has established itself as Sydney’s foremost creative hub, having launched groundbreaking projects Vivid Sydney at Central Park and STREETS AHEAD, an innovative conference and tradeshow that bridges the gap between local and international streetwear labels and platforms the importance of balancing art and business for brands.